Hebron

Girl (Rajhad, school playground, Hebron)

Rajhad is looking out of the fence that protects her small school in central Hebron. The building is now built like a fortress following severe assaults by Zionist settlers in 2006, 2008 and 2009. In one instance, settlers set fire to the building while classes were taking place.

Like most children in the school, Rajhad has suffered heavy injuries from settler violence. The assailants are usually the children of nearby Zionist settlers, who throw stones at Palestinian children on their way to and from school. This usually happens under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers, who are ready to arrest Palestinian children but allow the settlers to operate with impunity.

With bitter irony, Rajhad says: ‘I want to beat a settler, so that they can be arrested like we are when settlers beat us.’

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Building young lives in Jerusalem’s Old City

‘In the beginning, the kids who came here were violent’, says Mohammad Abu Sbitan, director of the social centre, ‘they used bad language, were rude and restless. But now we’re beginning to see results.’ His eyes light up a little over his study office desk. ‘The children are polite and at ease with themselves. Before, they could not sit and listen to a story for more than 10 minutes. Now they will sit quietly and enjoy a story all the way through.’

Mustafa (left) and Amir, at the Burj Al Luq Luq Social Centre

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Non-violent & violent protest in Bil’in, Palestine

Tear gas fills our eyes, as a barrage of stones bounces off the soldier’s shields. It’s the weekly protest at Bil’in, a village where the Israeli Wall has taken large sections of land from Palestinian locals, and the event has just turned violent.

Tear gas grenade and alcohol swabs: the soldier and the doctor
'Weapon of choice'. Left, an Israeli solider holding a tear gas grenade; Right, a Palestinian doctor holding alcohol swabs.

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March for Jobs – Brighton protest

Unison workers in support of Phoenix creche and nursery, under risk of closure. Photo © Josh Jones / Photography Without Borders 2010

6th March, 2010: Workers, students and young people of Brighton gathered today to March for Jobs. The aptly named protest opposed public sector cuts and job losses. The demonstration marched Brighton city centre for one hour, with chants such as ‘Students, and workers, unite and fight.’

The protest comes in the wake of two student occupations at Sussex University, proposed public sector job cuts in Brighton, and promises by both the major political parties to make nationwide cut-backs in public services.

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‘Remember Gaza’ – Smash EDO protest, Brighton

'Remember Gaza', 'Blood on your hands' - the protest marches along Lewes Road outside Moulsecoomb. Photo © Josh Jones 2010

Monday 18th January, 2010: Hundreds gathered in Brighton today to protest the presence of EDO, an arms firm that develops weapons parts used in the assault on Gaza last year. Police responded with force, and scuffles outside the EDO/ITT weapons factory on Home Farm Road led to several injuries. In Brighton city centre, protestors were kettled by police for up to an hour, and several arrests were made, including one medic.

The Smash EDO campaign has been calling for the closure of the Brighton-based arms manufacturer for six years, and claims EDO/ITT corp. is complicit in war crimes.

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1417 dead in Gaza – London remembers

 

1417: London remembers the dead. Photo © Josh Jones 2010

16th Jan, 2010: People from all over the United Kingdom came to London today to remember the 1417 Palestinians who died in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip one year ago.

‘This is not only to remember the dead’, one speaker announced, ‘but also to protest at Israel’s ongoing policy of occupation.’

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International support for Sussex Uni boycott of Israel

Nov 11th, 2009: Students at the University of Sussex have received messages of support from Palestinian grassroots organisations and Israeli and Jewish academics, following a decision by ballot to boycott Israeli goods.

The boycott referendum was in one of the best attended and closest contested in Sussex Student Union’s history, and the final result mandates the Union to remove all Israeli food produce from its stores.

The decision has received support from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, the grassroots Palestinian committee formed out of the campaign to boycott Israel in 2007. Speaking on behalf of its 23 member organisations, a spokesperson said that Sussex’s decision was significant as part of the international movement:

‘The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) salutes Sussex University students for their decision to boycott Israeli goods.

‘Student movements played a key role in ending Apartheid in South Africa. Today, we call on students across the globe to boycott Israeli products and divest from Israel until it complies with fundamental human rights principles and international law.’

Sussex students campaigning on campus. Photo © Josh Jones 2009
Sussex students campaigning on campus. Photo © Josh Jones 2009

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Sussex Students Boycott Israeli Goods

Oct 30th, 2009: Following a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision follows the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, which calls upon the Israeli state to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine.

 

Students of Sussex Palestine Society
Students of Sussex Palestine Society and Stop The War Coalition. Photo © Josh Jones 2009

The referendum result mandates the Students’ Union to remove all Israeli produce from its stores, and review its sources for food outlets. This makes Sussex Students’ Union the first in the UK to implement a full boycott of Israeli goods through referendum. The vote was one of the largest and closest contested in the Union’s history, with 562 votes for and 450 against the boycott.

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Bring the Troops Home, Stop the War – London protest

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'Stop the War - Troops Out of Afghanistan'. Photo © Josh Jones 2009

24th Oct, 2009: ‘Bring the Troops Home’ was the demand of tens of thousands of anti-war protesters in London today. The demonstration was called by Stop the War, CND and the British Muslim Institute. Trafalgar Square heard speeches against against the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with speakers as diverse as refusing soldier Lance Cpl Joe Glenton and Guantanamo survivor Omar Deghayes.

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Jobs, Education, Peace: Protest at Labour Party Conference

Jobs Education Peace -Labour Party Conference 1
'Jobs, Education, Peace' - the demands set by the protest. Photo © Josh Jones 2009

27th Sep, 2009: While Labour began its Party conference, Brighton seafront hosted thousands of people calling for ‘Jobs, Education and Peace’. The national protest, supported by major trade unions and left-wing parties, also ran under the banner ‘Rage Against New Labour’. The protest passed without interference from police, and caused minimal disruption to the city.

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BNP ‘Red, White & Blue’ festival meets stiff resistance

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'The BNP is a Nazi Party!' Anti-fascist protesters stand up. Photo @ Josh Jones 2009

15th Aug, 2009: Thousands of British citizens came together today to disrupt the BNP’s annual ‘Red, White and Blue’ festival. The opening day of the British National Party’s propaganda event in Derbyshire was widely disrupted as protesters blocked roads, physically stopping BNP members and potential recruits from reaching the festival. The day passed with minimal violence, and nine reported arrests.

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Community Garden At Risk

The Lewes Road Community Garden in Brighton, featured in my previous blog, is at risk of total closure. This week, a private security firm locked the gates and declared the site closed to the public. The land is privately owned, but has been unused for over four years, and the Community Garden project has transformed the empty lot into a green space for local residents.

If you feel the garden should remain open, please sign the petition, or send a message of support to lewesroadcommunitygarden@gmail.com.

Lewes Road Community Garden - Smiling
Relaxing in the Garden last Sunday. Photo © Josh Jones

 

Brighton citizens turn guerilla gardeners

May 2009: Residents in the Lewes Road area of Brighton have reclaimed a derelict plot and are turning it into a community garden. The project is entirely run by volunteers and supported by donations of soil, plants, and turfing. The plot, formerly a petrol station, is privately owned but has been derelict for over four years.

Digging
Digging. Photo © Josh Jones

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Sussex Protesters ‘Camp Against Cuts’

Discussion
Meeting in the shade to prepare for the day. Photo © Josh Jones

26th May, 2009: Students at Sussex University have set up camp outside management offices to show their dissatisfaction with controversial new tactics, this week. ‘Camp Against Cuts’, which pitched its first tent last Thursday, now comprises half a dozen well-kept tents festooned with banners. It comes as Sussex management continue to pursue their plans of dropping Linguistics as a course, a decision which raised the anger of thousands of students and staff as well as famous linguists such as Noam Chomsky.

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‘Mayday! Mayday!’ Smash EDO Brighton: anti-war march clashes with police

Hundreds of people from all over the country met in Brighton today to protest against the war, capitalism, and the arms trade. Organised by the Smash EDO movement, which for years has been campaigning against the EDO/ITT weapons factory based in Brighton, the protest started off very peacefully and remained generally positive throughout the day.

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Protesters meet at midday. Photo © Josh Jones.

May Day, 4th May 2009: Hundreds of people from all over the country met in Brighton today to protest against the war, capitalism, and the arms trade. Organised by the Smash EDO movement, which for years has been campaigning against the EDO/ITT weapons factory based in Brighton, the protest started off very peacefully and remained generally positive throughout the day.

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Pride

Pride_by_Josh Jones

Bedouin children in the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The children of this valley are put at constant risk by the live-fire exercises that Israeli military conduct in the area. Their mother told me how soldiers would set off explosives of all sorts, from gas bombs to sound grenades, on the hill pictured behind. The ground is then left dangerous, as many explosives remain undetonated.

These children remain strong, and the older brother insisted I try riding his horse – which I did, bareback, for the first time in my life.

Thanks for dropping by – all comments are appreciated.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Milking

Milking_by_Josh Jones

While visiting the home of some Bedouin farmers in occupied Palestine, I was invited to try milking a sheep.

I was rubbish. Honestly, it’s harder than it looks. And it really feels funny, like a warm furry water balloon.

Later that evening, the farmers treated us to gallons of hot, sweetened goat’s milk. We left after nightfall, disturbed by their stories and humbled by their generosity.

A popular photo of mine depicts this boy and his little sibling, and can be found here.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Strength

Strength

Kalim, local councillor, shows me the positions in which he and other inmates of the prison were forced to stand for days on end.

This building was built by the British during the Mandate control of Palestine, and was later used by the Israeli military as a prison. In the late 90’s, the Israeli military pulled out, and most of the buildings have since been renovated. The building is now a community centre for local groups, arts and theatre.

Some of the cells and torture chambers, such as this one, lie hidden behind locked doors. They have been left to fall into disrepair, but significantly not demolished. Graffiti on the wall mimics the ‘agony position’, a sort of half-crouch, which the prisoners – almost all of them incarcerated for political reasons – were forced to endure. Kalim spent seven years, from the mid eighties to the early nineties, mostly in this jail.

___

Twenty-four hours before, I was eating ice-cream in a water park. The smell of water is intoxicating in the Jordan valley – so many rivers have run dry because of climate change and Israeli water diversion, that to catch the moist scent of humid air always brings out smiles and gasps of pleasure. The owners of the park, five brothers, had given us the warm greetings we had become accustomed to in Palestine, and within minutes we were stuffing ourselves with shockingly sweet bubble-gum ice cream.

On the table we spread out a souvenir from Jerusalem: a map of Palestine and Israel, showing the Israeli ‘security wall’ that surrounds and divides much of the West Bank. Pink splotches represented Israeli settlements, and checkered pink showed the settlements of Gaza that were abandoned in 2006. Dotted, intangible lines marked the theoretical boundaries between Israel and Palestine, which now lie well neglected.

Somewhat dizzy from ice-cream, I sat admiring place-names. One of our group, with a air of sadness and of hope, indicated with a sweeping hand from East to West, from occupied Palestine to the coast of the Meditteranian, ‘One day. All this.’ His suggestion was that Palestinians might regain the land that was given away by the British to form the state of Israel. Kalim shook his head. ‘Not even that’, he said, ‘Let them keep their land.’ We fell silent. He was calm and spoke as though from a great depth. He said: ‘Just for us to be left alone.’

___

I thought I knew what strength was before I came to Palestine. Really. I thought that if you could take a blow and not flinch, you were strong; that if you could risk your life in order to save what you loved the most, you were strong. That strength is about fighting for what you believe in.

I have met strong people, and by example they have shown me I was wrong. They do not fight; they do not take up the knife or gun, they do not preach violence or hatred. They have endured immeasurable suffering.

They are strong because in spite of their experience, in spite of every low feeling telling them to tear apart their oppressors, they have kept their humanity. They are still kind. They are, I can say for sure, the most peaceful people I have ever met. I see now that any old fool can pick up a gun and fight. It takes real strength to preserve your humanity.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Strength II

Strength_II

Khalim is sitting in the courtyard where he and other Palestinian political prisoners were kept chained and hooded. He explained how he was commonly kept awake there for a number of days; soldiers would pour freezing water over anyone who appeared to fall asleep. The courtyard was abandoned by the Israeli military, and has since been left untouched.

This courtyard is a part of a large prison, most of which has been renovated and turned into a community centre. This photo is the second of two, and the first is accompanied by some of my thoughts. You can read it here.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.